The Republican candidates who gathered for their third presidential debate on Wednesday night had strong criticisms of President Joe Biden’s reluctance to respond to Iran-backed Shiite militias launching dozens of attacks against American troops in Iraq and Syria.
“The idea that our men and women could be targeted and that we’ve allowed almost a hundred hits to happen under Biden’s watch is unthinkable,” said former South Carolina governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.
We need to understand this is Iran giving the green light, telling them what to do. We shouldn’t be doing it tit-for-tat, like what Joe Biden has done. We need to go and take out their infrastructure that they are using to make those strikes with, so they can never do it again.
“Iran responds to strength,” said Haley. “You punch them one [sic], and you punch them hard, and they will back off.”
“What we don’t need is Biden falling all over himself to get back in the Iran deal,” she continued. “Him giving $6 billion to get five hostages home, him telling Netanyahu now that he needs a pause or a ceasefire. We don’t need him sitting there, tiptoeing around Iran, because he thinks they’re gonna do something.”
“You don’t respond to an enemy and a terrorist with fear. You respond with strength,” she contended. “When you do that, that’s when the world pays attention, and that’s when Iran stops.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was likewise critical of the limited, carefully targeted strikes at militia supply depots Biden has authorized after dozens of attacks against American service members.
“I actually served in Iraq back in the day,” DeSantis pointed out. “We had al-Qaeda in Iraq. [We] had Shia militias that were funded by Iran that were killing hundreds and hundreds of U.S. troops.”
“As commander-in-chief, I am not going to put our troops in harm’s way unless you’re willing to defend them with everything you have,” he declared.
“Biden has them out there; they’re sitting ducks. He’s doing glancing blows. That’s just inviting more attacks from the Iranians,” he said.
“I would say: you harm a hair on the head of an American service member, and you are going to have hell to pay,” DeSantis vowed. “We are not just going to sit there and let our service members be sitting ducks. That’s true whether it’s Iran or whether it’s any country on the world.”
“We have to be strong, and we have to defend the people who defend us,” he said.
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South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott also mentioned the Iran-backed militia attacks on U.S. troops during his comments on the Israel-Hamas war.
“I would tell President Biden, with great clarity: If you want to stop the forty-plus attacks on military personnel in the Middle East, you have to strike at Iran,” Scott said.
“If you want to make a difference, you cannot just continue to have strikes in Syria on warehouses. You actually have to cut off the head of the snake. The head of the snake Is Iran, and not strictly the proxies,” he concluded.
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